What we learned as Alabama gymnastics advanced at NCAA Seattle Regional Final

Mikey DiLullo
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama gymnastics will not be going home yet. The Crimson Tide's 197.9 score in Seattle on Thursday placed Alabama first in its session, clinching its spot in the NCAA regional final Saturday. Michigan State finished second with a 197.325 and will also advance, while Washington's 197.175 claimed third and BYU's 196.625 finished fourth.

Here's what we learned:

Lilly Hudson, Lexi Graber finish floor strong

Alabama started on floor exercise and had a solid, if unspectacular, start, with 9.85s from both Shallon Olsen and Emily Gaskins and 9.875s from Griffin James and Cam Machado. However, freshman Lilly Hudson and senior Lexi Graber closed the rotation with back-to-back 9.95s, establishing an early Alabama lead.

Alabama gymnast Lilly Hudson holds on to her landing after dismounting from the balance beam during the SEC Gymnastics Championship at Legacy Arena in Birmingham Saturday, March 19, 2022.

Luisa Blanco, Makarri Doggette limited

Luisa Blanco left the SEC Championship with an injury after falling off the balance beam, and Alabama coach Dana Duckworth had no update on her prior to Thursday. Makarri Doggette suffered an injury against Georgia in the Power of Pink meet in early February and had not competed in more than one event since then. Both were limited again on Thursday, each scoring a 9.9 on the uneven parallel bars, their only routines of the meet.

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Bars hot streak continues

Coming off a performance on the apparatus at the SEC Championship with five 9.9 scores in six routines, Alabama one-upped itself Thursday. In addition to Doggette and Blanco, Machado and Hudson also scored 9.9s. Hudson added a 9.95, and Shania Adams scored a 9.875 that was later changed to a 9.9 by the judges.

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What's next

Alabama advances to the regional final Saturday. The Crimson Tide will face off against Michigan State and the top two finishers in Thursday's second session. The meet starts at 7 p.m. CT and will be on ESPN+.